Strabane-based artist wins booklet cover design competition

A STRABANE-based artist has won a public competition to design a booklet cover illustration.

Berni Bradley of Bradley Art designed the cover of 'Through The Glass' Reminiscence Stories which shares stories and poems and was created as part of c21 Theatre Company.

This involved working with care home residents and day centre service users across Northern Ireland and was compiled and published into a special booklet.

The booklet was supported by The National Lottery Community Fund and Doyle Shipping Group.

Working against the backdrop of the pandemic and within COVID-19 guidelines, ‘Through The Glass’ The Reminiscence Project 2020 used ‘reminiscent boxes’ containing historical items ranging from powdered milk in WWII to 1970s shoes to help stimulate conversations among residents and create personal stories.

Activity coordinators located in the homes facilitated workshops to gather stories which provided writers Gary Wilson, Tom Rowntree-Finlay and poet Shelley Tracey with content for a series of theatrical scenes.

The scenes were made into short films which were distributed to the care homes, as well as broadcast on c21 Theatre Company’s YouTube channel during November and December 2020.

Extracts from ‘Through the Glass’ Reminiscence Stories booklet, compiled by poet Shelley Tracey, will be presented and performed as part of c21 Theatre Company’s tour to five of the care homes involved in the project.

Following a public competition, the booklet’s cover illustration was designed by Berni Bradley of Bradley Art.

The illustration was inspired by her own interactions with tutoring older age groups and use of artefacts that evoke reminiscence to stimulate creativity.

Berni is an artist based in Strabane. She attended the Art College and went on to teach methodology at the Belfast Met. Tutoring older age groups helped highlight the importance of memory.

"Attending Art College in Belfast, followed by consolidating my artistic practice with teaching methodology at Belfast Met 1997, equipped me for a wide spectrum of facilitation to a diversity of groups in community settings throughout the North West," said Berni.

"Tutoring older age groups has highlighted for me the importance of memory.

"I frequently begin my art classes by a joint collaboration of retrieving and depicting through art, beloved keepsakes, or photographs.

"Other preoccupations are environmental and social malaise, interventionist artwork, tackling experimentally with installation, performance and working with recycled material.

"I like to undertake a variety of large scale, mural work, having been commissioned for many public and private settings including clinics, courtyards community halls and theatre.

"These assignments run in tandem with my own my art practice which centres around my passion for portraiture and figurative work."

Director of ‘Through the Glass’ The Reminiscence Project, Stephen Kelly, of c21 Theatre Company, said: “Through the Glass The Reminiscence Project has been an incredible journey for everyone involved.

"In the face of a once in the lifetime pandemic we were fortunate to be in a position to work with a range of partners who supported us to create meaningful and creative content, provide a voice for the social care sector, the residents and provide vital employment for those working in the arts sector.

"We are very grateful to the National Lottery Community Fund and Doyle Shipping Group for their support throughout the making of the ‘Through the Glass’ Reminiscence Stories booklet.

"It is a privilege to revisit some of the care homes as part of our NI tour and perform some of the stories and poems featured.

"It is our way to say thank you for giving us such wonderful stories to share, for future generations to enjoy, and for inspiring us during challenging times.”

Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland director of The National Lottery Community Fund, commented: “We are delighted to fund this booklet, which is giving care home residents a voice to tell their stories, capture important memories and in turn, improve their wellbeing.

"National Lottery players raise around £30 million every week across the UK for good causes like this, and they can be proud to know that it is making such a difference to people in Northern Ireland.”

Sean McCready, director of Doyle Shipping Group, Belfast added: “It has been a real pleasure for us to be involved in such a beautiful project with c21 Theatre Company. We can never really appreciate the times our parents, grandparents and great grandparents lived in, but these snapshots take us back to their time. Our employees got to watch all the films together and felt privileged to have contributed in some way to the process.”

‘Through the Glass’ Reminiscence Stories booklet will be available to the residents, service users, care home providers and families. For a downloadable copy of the booklet and for further information on ‘Through The Glass’ The Reminiscence Project visit www.c21theatrecompany.com. Follow c21 Theatre Company (@c21Theatre) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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